If you didn't read this article in yesterday's Register, take a moment to do so. It forecasts a major shift in Iowa's educational structure.
You can see why legislators are considering this, as AEAs, without their direct contact with students, looks like the natural choice to save money. Same way a district looks to administrators, central office staff, and custodians when cutting to meet their budget. But, those same legislators could also understand that cutting their own clerical support is not going to make for a more efficient legislature.
Obviously, as one who earns their paycheck from an AEA, I'm distraught about this. Certainly, that's not to say that AEA employees would be losing their jobs, but "re-organization" is the time to lop off programs and services while becoming more streamlined, regardless of the gentle language that is coming out in the article.
So, the question is what will we lose in order to save this money? Will it just be the "extra layers of bureaucracy" that is referred to--the administrative jobs that can be magically eliminated without a loss in services? Do those even exist (and why haven't AEAs eliminated those already, then)?
Or will it be cuts in curriculum consulting? Professional development? Assessment services?
And, the second question is will districts see that saved money? Especially now that they will have to hire to handle those services internally? Or will it be absorbed by the state budget?
Will this new, spider-shaped organization, be efficient enough to keep Iowa's schools moving forward? Do we have any other spider-shaped initiatives going on right now, and how would we rate their efficiency?
Erik Helland is right, the devil is in the details.